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How to Know if Your Child is Too Sick to Go to School

When to keep a sick child home from school

When most of us were young, the decision to keep a child home from school was easily made by a mother based on what she felt when she placed her hand on her child’s forehead. In the past schools didn’t second guess that decision unless a child spent several weeks at home. Times have certainly changed.

These days, most schools have strict attendance requirements. A child who racks up too many absences is identified as legally truant. Furthermore, families with two working parents face a loss of income when they keep a sick child at home. This means families across the US really struggle with when to send kids to school and when to keep them home several times a year.

Here is a practical advice on how to know if your child is too sick to go to school.

Is Your Child a Risk to Others?

Typically, children who have one or more of the following symptoms should not go to school. If symptoms are severe or do not disappear within 72 hours, most schools and medical professionals would agree they should see a doctor.

  • A fever of 100 °F
  • Rash
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Red eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Lethargy

While it’s true that allergies frequently cause red eyes, conjunctivitis is a very common childhood illness, and if left untreated, it will permanently damage your child’s eyes.

Rashes can be a sign of everything from chicken pox and measles, and sometimes a rash is really a lesion. Impetigo is a serious childhood illness which can cause scars and a dangerous infection called cellulitis.

Lethargy, which may appear as an unexplained fatigue or drowsiness that doesn’t pass after a good night’s rest, is a serious symptom particularly when associated with other symptoms.

Keeping your kid home when they have these symptoms protects them and protects others from potentially life-threatening illnesses.

Sending your child to school with the flu can translate into an outbreak among fellow students and teachers. It may also result in a very serious illness for younger brothers and sisters at home.

Generally speaking, you should keep your kid home until the symptoms listed above have disappeared for more than twenty-four hours or a doctor has indicated they can safely return to the classroom.

Is Your Child Uncomfortable?

If your child has a stuffy nose or cough but shows no other sign of illness or discomfort, sending them to school is the sensible thing to do. Children six and under suffer a wide range of short-lived viruses and colds. While these illnesses may be communicable, they do not result in serious illness. They are a part of growing up.

When children have stomach pain that evaporates as the day wears on, or an allergy that requires them to carry tissues with them for a few days a year, keeping them home from school will generally not serve them well. Each day spent away from school increases the likelihood your kid will fall behind others in their class and keeping them home doesn’t help them get better faster.

That said, a child experiencing severe discomfort, ranging from a twisted ankle to abdominal pain that has no apparent cause should certainly be taken to the doctor.

It is surprising how often children crack bones or tear ligaments without realizing they’ve been hurt. Children who have suffered any kind of blow to their head and subsequently show signs of lethargy, dizziness or confused speech need to go to the doctor right away because they may have a concussion.

Attendance Matters to Your Child and Your Child’s School.

Schools are frequently compensated by the State for the time your kid spends in school. Administrators now track attendance by the hour and notice when children are repeatedly absent. Teachers know that students who come to school every day find it easier to keep up with their class.

Working hard to keep your child well enough to attend school, letting your child stay home when they are ill, and taking your child to the doctor for treatment when they need good medical care, safeguards their health and their education.

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